5 min read | September 1, 2023

A Short History of the UK’s Biodiversity Indicators 

In the last few decades, biodiversity has emerged as a significant area of international concern. In this blog, we will delve into the nature of the biodiversity indicators the UK government has published and explore their applications.

In the last few decades, biodiversity has emerged as a significant area of international concern. Since the latter half of the 20th century, we have witnessed a growing movement focused on biodiversity preservation, sustainability best practices, and environmental efforts worldwide. Different countries around the globe have adopted various strategies in an attempt to conserve and enhance their biodiversity.

Amidst evolving policies, expanding environmental organisations, and sustainability initiatives, the UK government (through DEFRA and the JNCC) has published a set of biodiversity indicators. These indicators are designed to align tracking and data recording with a global understanding and standard of biodiversity measures. Initially published in 2007, they continue to be updated and adapted to meet the evolving needs of biodiversity strategies and policies on both local and global scales. Collaborating with numerous organisations and dedicated volunteers across the UK and around the world, these indicators are maintained to maximise the value of new data sources and methods as they become available.

In this blog, we will delve into the nature of the biodiversity indicators (the English versions can be found here) and explore their applications.

Origins of Biodiversity Indicators

The UK's utilisation of biodiversity indicators originates from its commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which has been in effect since 1993, and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets established in 2010. These targets were adopted as part of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 during the CBD’s 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10), held in Aichi Prefecture, Japan (thus the name of the targets). The UK employs these indicators to report on its progress towards meeting these international goals and targets. In fact, they constituted a significant portion of the UK’s 6th National Report to the CBD in 2019.

The Aichi Biodiversity Targets present a specific and measurable roadmap for implementing the broader objectives of the CBD. Organised under five strategic objectives, these targets encompass 20 goals that address various aspects of biodiversity conservation, sustainable use, and equitable benefit sharing. This framework provides a comprehensive approach to addressing the ongoing global biodiversity crisis.

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally - Reach of UK Biodiversity Indicators

Grounded in a global environmental mindset with a focus on local biodiversity improvement, the UK’s Biodiversity Indicators are concise tools for conveying overarching trends. While they don't encapsulate the entirety of UK biodiversity data, they offer a window into larger shifts. In line with global standards, because of their relation to the widely adopted Aichi Biodiversity Targets, these indicators are continually undergoing comprehensive review to ensure their data's robustness and relevance. They are also aligned with the continued developments of the CBD.

The UK's approach to these indicators is a collaborative endeavour, involving around 100 organisations, spanning government entities, NGOs, and academic institutions. This approach has gained international recognition, positioning the UK at the forefront of biodiversity indicator work.

The UK's extensive biodiversity data, sourced from both experts and volunteers, underpins reports on biodiversity changes and conservation policy impacts, bridging international and national conservation efforts. 

The Most Recent Biodiversity Indicator Review

The UK's biodiversity indicators were most recently reviewed and updated in December 2022 at the CBD’s 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15). The previous review had taken place in 2012, with substantial research and action occurring over the ensuing decade. The Environment Act of 2021 particularly influenced the indicators, introducing a new species abundance target. These updates have resulted in the current, refined set of UK Biodiversity Indicators. The next comprehensive update is scheduled for late 2023.

Now, the UK’s biodiversity indicators symbolise a coordinated, evidence-based approach to understanding and conserving the country's natural heritage. They reinforce the commitment to transparent and reliable data dissemination. In future blogs, we will delve deeper into the UK’s biodiversity indicators.

Oliver Lewis

Oliver Lewis

Founder of Joe’s Blooms
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Oliver Lewis is the founder of Joe’s Blooms, providing end-to-end digital solutions to help you create best-in-class Biodiversity Gain Plans. Expert in this field, he shares his knowledge on the Environment Bill.

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